Many parents and children excitingly await for the school to start, only then to be gripped by panic the day before. The settling in process is a time during which both children and parents get used to the new school, routines and sometimes, being away from each other for a long period of time. It can go extremely well for some, or for others, be a period of anxiety and tears. We would like to reassure you that it is all completely normal, and children and parents will soon be happily waving good-bye at the door. To make this transition smoother, remember the following tips:
1. Consistency is key. Young children thrive in routine and it is important that you stick to attending the nursery every day. It will become normality for the little ones much quicker and they will begin to look forward to it.
2. Positive reassurance. Talk about the nursery with your child at home and be excited about them going there. Come to stay and play day for new children, bring them to visits and open days, so they can become familiar with the place and teachers.
3. Gradual separation. On the first day, bring in your child, give them a hug and a kiss and a big smile, explain that you will now go, but will be back. The children need to learn that you will come back for them, but cannot do so if you don't leave. By staying with the child during the session, their anxiety only prolongs as they realise that you will leave eventually. This, in turn, makes them more clingy and prevents them from forming relationships with the teachers. It also affects other children who see their friends' parents, but not their own. It is best to leave for a short time and come back in 20 minutes to an hour, gradually increasing this time over the next few days.
4. Communicate with the school. Phone the school to check how your child is doing, as many times as you want. Don't be shy, the teachers know how sensitive this period can be, and they will be happy to reassure you. If the child is really unsettled, the school will call you to collect them and we try another day.
5. Don't let setbacks bring you down. Children can go in happily for the first few days or even weeks only then to realise that this is now permanent and get slightly distressed. This is absolutely normal and happens more often after a weekend, or a break, or any change at home, such as parents traveling. It will stabilise with a little bit more time.
6. Trust the teachers. You have chosen the school amongst all others, and even if this is all very new and scary, please trust the teachers and work with them. Teachers really value parental partnership and are experienced in what they do. In a week or two, your child will happily run in to play with their new friends.